Tuesday, December 1, 2015

To Dad

            Often, an apparent difference in opinion is nothing more than a mere lack of communication.  We perceive disagreement and enflame our emotions after a carefree statement or hollow rhetoric.  Lovers quarrel when they cannot articulate their emotions effectively.  Parents and children fall out of touch when the generational gap becomes too great to traverse.  We forgo empathy and instead react with blind fury, seldom taking the time to put ourselves in the proverbial someone else’s shoes.
            My father and I agree on almost every consequential issue.  I spent most of my life listening to stories of his mistakes, and subsequently, trying desperately to take the actions necessary to avoid making the same ones.  The bizarre thing is, every time I look in the mirror, I see a little more of him in myself.  Things he said that I once thought were crazy, I now am starting to realize are more profound than I ever could have understood at the time.  When dad started composting behind the garage, I laughed.  Now, I know, he’s one of the few trying to do his part to save this world that our species has so irreparably damaged.
            These days, it grows ever more difficult to communicate effectively with my father.  The qualms of a budding 21-year-old are foreign to him, just as the concerns of a newly empty nester are esoteric to me.  We fight over nothing, and then we fight about fighting over nothing.  Until now, I could never quite figure out why.
            The problem is, I always assumed that both of us were in the wrong.  He wasn’t thinking like me and I wasn’t thinking like him—we couldn’t possibly agree on anything.  The thing is, my father was a 21-year-old once, and not too long ago.  I cannot possibly imagine what it must be like to bear the burden of both a former college student, as well as a current parent, with both perspectives weighing on his every decision.  Where I’ve always assumed my dad lacked empathy, I now fear he’s always had more empathy than I could have possibly hope for.
            One day, I have no doubt that I’ll look back and cherish all of the advice my father’s given me, for better or for worse.  In the end, the thought is what really counts, not the actions that ensue.  I am now more confident than ever that dad puts more thought into his interactions with me than anyone else.

            People change. We explore.  We fail.  We grow up.  Perhaps most importantly, we learn from our mistakes.  Sometimes, reevaluating advice long forgotten brings out true meaning—true growth.  To see where you were, and where you’ve gone since, as a result of such guidance is an internal metric that weighs heavier than any grade or bonus.  A few moments of introspection might be all you need to take that next step in cycle of life.